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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Marine Corps soldier in the Vietnam War and‐Medal of Honor winner, was born in Nacogdoches, Texas, the son of Frank and Mildred Austin, and‐was raised in Phoenix, Arizona. A graduate of Phoenix Union High School, Austin was inducted for service in the U.S. Marine Corps during the height of the Vietnam War on 22 April 1968. Upon joining the marines, he was sent to boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, and served as a member of the Third Recruit Training Battalion through July 1968. Austin subsequently received individual combat and infantryman training at Camp Pendleton, California, from August to September 1968 as part of the Second Infantry Training Regiment, following which, in October 1968, he was promoted to private first class. Later that month, on 15 October he was sent to the Republic of Vietnam for his first tour of ...


politician, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the fourth of seven children born to Irving Clay, a welder, and Luella (Hyatt) Clay, a homemaker. Growing up in a run-down tenement house with no indoor toilet, Clay would later note that a severe lack of basic facilities were afforded to the disenfranchised in the heavily black city, where thousands of residents lived in abject squalor, “just blocks from the downtown business district” (Clay, A Political Voice, p. 11).

While Clay attended St. Nicholas Catholic School, a black parochial school near his house, he worked as well, delivering newspapers at eight years old and selling scrap metal during World War II. By the time he was twelve, he was working at the Good Luck Store, a downtown retail men's clothing store, full-time during the summer and part-time during the school year.

Clay attributed his political awakening and activism to ...


Kenneth Wiggins Porter

Born in Tennessee, Jacob Green Currin (or Curran) went to Kansas about 1877. He was part of the great Exoduster movement of Southern blacks emigrating North in search of freedom and opportunity. By 1883 he was living in Topeka, Kansas, where in 1885 he was a member of the police department. In 1888 he was the Republican nominee for police judge, but despite the city's Republican majority of 1,500, he and two other black Republican candidates were defeated.

This defeat seems to have turned Currin's thoughts from Kansas to Oklahoma. He participated in the great land rush of April 22, 1889, and was successful in obtaining a claim in Kingfisher County. In July he was elected vice president of the Oklahoma Immigration Association of Topeka, which supported the plans of Republican politician and prospector E. P. McCabe for black colonization of the Cherokee Strip an area ...


Daniel Donaghy

pastor, civil rights activist, and U.S. congressman. Walter Edward Fauntroy was the fourth of seven children born in Washington, D.C., to William T. Fauntroy Sr., a U.S. Patent Office clerk, and Ethel Fauntroy, a homemaker. As a boy, Fauntroy became an active member of the New Bethel Baptist Church; the church gave Fauntroy sanctuary against the poverty and crime of secular Washington. As a high school student, Fauntroy experienced his first call to the ministry. After Fauntroy graduated second in his class from Dunbar High School in 1952, some of the members of New Bethel Baptist Church presented him with enough money to pay for his first year at Virginia Union University, where he graduated with honors in 1955 before going on to earn a divinity degree from Yale University.

While at Virginia Union, Fauntroy met the future civil rights activist Martin Luther King ...


Raymond Pierre Hylton

legislator, pastor, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Thomas Fauntroy and Ethel Vines Fauntroy. His father worked in the U.S. Patent Office. Upon graduating from Dunbar High School in 1952, Fauntroy entered Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. While there he received strong support and encouragement from his pastor, the Reverend Charles David Foster, and he graduated from Virginia Union in 1955 with a BA in History. He received a scholarship to attend Yale University Divinity School, where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree in 1958. In 1959 when his longtime mentor the Reverend Foster died, Fauntroy was named to succeed him as pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church. He married Dorothy Simms on August 3, 1957, and the couple had a son, Marvin Keith, and a daughter, Melissa Alice.

During his ...


Dominic J. Capeci

civil rights advocate and trade unionist, was born in Newberry County near Chappells, South Carolina, the son of Fred Grigsby and Kitty (maiden name unknown), farmers. Named for the unusual snowfall that occurred on the day of his birth, he was known throughout his life as Snow Grigsby. He learned the lesson of fending for oneself in a family of twelve children raised by religious, education-minded, politically active parents. He embraced individualism but benefited from philanthropy and endorsed government activism. Grigsby left home to receive his high school diploma in 1923 at Harbison Junior College in Irmo, South Carolina, courtesy of the Presbyterian Church. Heading north to look for what he called “rosy opportunities,” he worked menial jobs by night and attended the Detroit Institute of Technology by day. He graduated in 1927 but failed to find employment as a pharmacist Like his father a onetime federal mail ...


Archibald Henry Grimké was born a slave in Charleston, South Carolina, to parents Henry Grimké, a European-American plantation owner, and Nancy Weston, an African American slave. Henry Grimké's sisters Sarah and Angelina were prominent white abolitionists. After emancipation, Archibald Grimké attended Lincoln University (Pennsylvania). With the help of his aunts Sarah and Angelina, he attended Harvard Law School. Graduating in 1874, he practiced law in Boston, Massachusetts, where he became editor of Hub, a Boston Republican newspaper in 1884. He also wrote for the Boston Herald and Boston Traveler. He left the Republican Party in 1886 because of its indifference to the plight of African Americans, joined the Democratic Party, and quickly became one of the most powerful African American Democrats in Massachusetts.

As a scholar and writer, Grimké published major biographies of William Lloyd Garrison (1891 and ...


Sylvie Coulibaly

lawyer, editor, diplomat, and civil rights activist. Archibald Henry Grimké was born a slave outside Charleston, South Carolina. His white father was the prominent plantation owner Henry Grimké, and his mother was Nancy Weston, a house slave of mixed ancestry. Widowed in 1843, Henry Grimké fathered two more sons with Weston, Francis in 1850 and John in 1852.

When Henry Grimké died in 1852, the family moved to Charleston. Still legally slaves owned by Henry Grimké's son Montague, Weston and her sons lived as free people, according to Henry's wishes. Weston supported the family alone and sent her sons to school at an early age. In 1860 Archibald and Francis became house slaves in Montague's household. They worked for their half brother for two years until Archibald ran away, hiding in Charleston until the Civil War ended.

In 1865 ...


Kristal L. Enter

lawyer and civil rights activist, was born in Wichita, Kansas, to Ocenia Bernice (Davis), teacher, baker, and domestic worker, and Harrison Hannibal Hollowell, custodian and prison guard. Donald Hollowell married Louise Thornton in 1943.

In 1935, Hollowell left high school and enlisted in the army with the all-black 10th Cavalry, one of the regiments also known as the Buffalo Soldiers. During his time with the army, Hollowell earned his high school diploma. In 1938, he enlisted in the army reserves and enrolled in Lane College, an all-black college in Tennessee. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hollowell reenlisted in the army, earning the rank of captain, and served in the European theater.

Hollowell was shaped by his experiences with segregation and discrimination in the army when he was stationed at bases in Georgia Texas Louisiana and Virginia While finishing at Lane College ...


Richard Sobel

civil rights activist and U.S. congressman, was born to the civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson and Jacqueline Davis Jackson in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson had an older sister, Santita, and younger siblings, Jonathan, Yusef, and Jacqueline. As a child, he was active, assertive and intelligent.

Believing their sons “needed a more regimented form of discipline” (Chicago Magazine, May 1996, 58), in 1977 the Jacksons sent Jesse Jr. and Jonathan to a military school, LeMans Academy in Indiana, where Jesse Jr. was a student for two years. While traveling with the Reverend Jackson in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe on civil rights missions, the children were introduced to celebrities, including Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela, so they were familiar and comfortable with leadership and celebrity from an early age.

Jackson Jr. finished high school in 1984 at ...


Carmen V. Harris

U.S. congressman for Illinois's Second Congressional District. The son of the prominent civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline Lavinia Brown, Jesse Louis Jackson Jr. was born in his father's hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. He is married to Sandi Stevens Jackson, who was elected alderwoman for Chicago's Seventh Ward in 2007. They have two children, Jessica and Jesse III.

Jackson's schooling paralleled that of his father. Like his father, Jackson received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. He received a master's degree in theology from the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1989 and a law degree from the University of Illinois in 1993. Both were schools that his father had attended. In 1986 Jackson was arrested and jailed in Washington, D.C., for protesting against apartheid at the South African Embassy. From 1993 ...


Elizabeth K. Davenport

attorney and civic leader, was born in Chicago into an African American family of successful lawyers. Her father, C. Francis Stradford, was a prominent attorney on Chicago's South Side and the founder of the National Bar Association (NBA), which he established in 1925. In 1940 C. Francis Stradford successfully argued the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark case Hansberry v. Lee, which abolished the restrictive covenants that had limited racial integration in Chicago neighborhoods. Her grandfather, J. B. Stradford, was a well-known lawyer in the African American community and the owner of the only black hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her mother, Aida Arrabella Carter Stradford, was an artist and a homemaker.LaFontant's indoctrination to the legal profession occurred early. As a student at Englewood Public High School in Chicago, she spent the summers working in her father's law office. In the autumn of 1939 she ...


Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek

political leader and intellectual, was born free in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Ralph Quarles, a wealthy white slaveholding planter, and Lucy Jane Langston, a part-Native American, part-black slave emancipated by Quarles in 1806. After the deaths of both of their parents in 1834, Langston and his two brothers, well provided for by Quarles's will but unprotected by Virginia law, moved to Ohio. There Langston lived on a farm near Chillicothe with a cultured white southern family who had been friends of his father and who treated him as a son. He was in effect orphaned again in 1839 when a court hearing concluding that his guardian s impending move to slave state Missouri would imperil the boy s freedom and inheritance forced him to leave the family Subsequently he boarded in four different homes white and black in Chillicothe and Cincinnati worked ...


Robert W. Logan

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee represented the Eighteenth Congressional District of Houston, Texas, filling the seat once held by the trailblazer Barbara Jordan. In the tradition of her distinguished predecessor, Lee served as a leader on civil rights and a forceful and articulate advocate of the physical and economic health of her constituents and the welfare of children, the poor, and the elderly.

Sheila Jackson Lee was born in Jamaica, New York. She earned a BA degree, with honors, at Yale in 1972 and a JD degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975. Before entering politics Lee was an attorney in the Houston area and served as staff counsel to the U.S. Select Committee on Assassinations in 1977 and 1978. She was a corporate attorney for several years before becoming an associate judge of the Houston Municipal Court in 1987 She served two ...


Timothy J. O'Brien

politician. Born in Lubbock, Texas, George Thomas “Mickey” Leland was raised in poverty in Houston's Fifth Ward neighborhood. His mother Alice, a teacher, raised Mickey and his brother William. After graduating from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1963, he attended Texas Southern University's School of Pharmacy. During his college years he gained a reputation as an activist by agitating for civil rights and other issues. He led a campus protest at the University of Houston campus seeking justice for Lee Otis Johnson, who had been sentenced to thirty years for possession of a marijuana cigarette. The demonstration prevented the Texas governor from speaking.

Leland received a bachelor's degree in pharmacy in 1970 and continued his activism by organizing black citizen action teams that protested police brutality Leland was arrested at the scene of a riot that ended with the Houston police fatally shooting the People ...


Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights leader and member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The son of devoutly religious Alabama sharecroppers, young John Lewis aspired to be a minister. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he met at the age of eighteen, was one of his most significant role models. The first in his family to graduate from high school, Lewis attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, earning a degree in 1961. In 1967 he completed a second degree in religion at Fisk University. In 1968 he married Lillian Miles. The couple adopted a son, John Miles Lewis.

Lewis's involvement in the civil rights movement soon took precedence over his earlier goal of joining the ministry. While a student, he attended workshops on nonviolent resistance taught by the activist James Lawson and participated in the sit ins that eventually led to the desegregation of Nashville s ...


Alonford James Robinson

John Lewis was one of ten children born to sharecroppers in Pike County, Alabama. He graduated from high school and entered the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1957. After graduating in 1961, he enrolled at Fisk University, where he earned a B.A. degree in 1967.

While a seminary student, Lewis participated in nonviolence workshops taught by civil rights activist James Lawson. Lawson was a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), an organization committed to pacifism, and he made Lewis a field secretary. Working with Septima Clark, director of an interracial adult-education center called the Highlander Folk School, Lewis became a leader in the Nashville student movement. He participated in Sit-Ins at segregated lunch counters, became a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, and helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964.

During his tenure ...


Robert C. Smith

civil rights leader and member of Congress, was born John Robert Lewis near Troy, Alabama, the third of seven children. Lewis's father, Eddie, was a sharecropper and small farmer, and his mother, Willie Mae, occasionally did laundry. Both of his parents were deeply religious, which may have helped shape Lewis's lifelong commitment to Christianity. As a young man, Lewis recalls, he heard Martin Luther King Jr. preach on the radio and was inspired to make the ministry his vocation. Starting by preaching in the woods near his home, eventually he was allowed to preach at local churches. In 1957 he became the first of his family to graduate from high school. After graduating, Lewis enrolled in the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1958, at the age of eighteen, he met Dr. King and his life was changed forever he decided to devote it ...


Janelle Harris

civil rights activist, was born the eldest daughter in a family of eight children and reared in a tight-knit, segregated community near downtown Mobile, Alabama. From early in her childhood, her father, Willie Malone, a carpenter and maintenance man, and her mother, Bertha Malone, a maid at Brookley Air Force Base, impressed upon Malone and her siblings two basic but lasting principles: love God and value education.

As a student at Central High School in Mobile Malone excelled academically and blossomed socially As graduation approached Malone turned her attention to the future and began making plans for a college education Her first choice was the University of Alabama UA the state s oldest university a sprawling picturesque campus in Tuscaloosa more than 200 miles away from her home To the frustration of many would be students and the chagrin of white empathizers the University of Alabama was ...


Marc A. Sennewald

civil rights attorney and U.S. Supreme Court justice. Thurgood (originally Thoroughgood) Marshall grew up on Druid Hill Avenue, which was the center of the African American working-class community in the segregated city of Baltimore. His father, William, worked as a dining car waiter on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and as head steward at the exclusive Gibson Island club on the Chesapeake Bay. Marshall's mother, Norma Arica, had studied briefly at Columbia University in New York and taught kindergarten in Baltimore's segregated schools.

Marshall was a masterful storyteller and raconteur who often embellished his narratives to make a point One of his stories had it that in grammar school he had to memorize sections of the Constitution as punishment for classroom misbehavior By the time he left the school he knew the whole thing by heart an auspicious start for the man who would become the twentieth century ...